Harper's Gun Bill Sets Canada Back Decades, CAW says

October 25, 2011, 2:30 PM EST

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The introduction of Bill C-19 today in the House of Commons, and its possible coming into force, will set Canada's gun control efforts back decades and compromise public safety, warns CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

The Bill, introduced by the Harper government, aims not only to eliminate the registration requirement for non-restricted firearms (a move that has been expected since the Conservatives formed a majority government on May 3), but also to cull over 15 years worth of useful long-gun registry data.

"The long-gun registry has been an important part of Canada's gun control program, which the Harper government is effectively taking the axe to," Lewenza said. "This aggressive push to weaken Canada's gun laws is more a show of political opportunism than common sense." 

CAW Women's Programs Director Julie White said even gun owners can't deny the fact police officers refer to the registry over 16,000 times daily, particularly for preventative actions and when intervening in domestic disputes, and that's an important piece in national efforts to stop violence against women and children.

"Since its inception in 1995, the rate of women murdered with firearms by their partner has dropped substantially, by 69 per cent," White said. "Our efforts to maintain the long-gun registry, along with countless other Canadians, have been rooted in the principles of public safety and fostering a culture of responsible gun ownership. Bill C-19 puts that at risk."

Since the long-gun registry was established (in response to the shooting deaths of 14 women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989) the CAW has championed gun control efforts and worked in close coordination with gun control advocacy groups, national women's organizations, suicide prevention groups and the broader labour movement, said Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action.

"Bill C-19 isn't officially a done deal," Ahn said. "Like any piece of legislation it must still stand up to the scrutiny of our democracy and our activists will work hard to make sure all Canadians understand what's at stake."

Earlier this year, CAW activists and allies held a series of flash mobs and rallies in communities across Southern Ontario to raise awareness about the importance of keeping Canada's long-gun registry in place.

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